Ole Miss-Texas

I think most reporters and sports journalists keep press passes from certain games. Like fans keep game programs or ticket stubs.

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I went by the Spirit office Friday afternoon. I saw one I'd kept that had fallen on the floor. I picked it up and snapped a picture with my phone.

It was from the Oxford Super Regional of 2005 when Texas came to town. It was that memorable weekend which led, at least in great part, to tonight's Ole Miss-Texas football game in Austin. Of course, the series started last year in Oxford.

I talked to Ross Bjork Friday but it was before I saw something another media outlet had reported. So I haven't asked him about it. In a story by Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger, Bjork said Texas had actually mentioned to Rebel officials about more football games between the two schools.

Ole Miss is already going to be playing football in Texas, at least every other year, beginning next season with a trip to College Station to play Texas A&M, since both are now members of the same conference for the first time. The Aggies make their second consecutive trip to Oxford in October.

It's all a part of getting the SEC schedule like officials from the conference office want it. They're trying to balance out the league slate now with 14 teams in the conference and maintain some rivalries from East-West. That means things like the Aggies coming to Ole Miss twice and Ole Miss going to Alabama, which will happen again in two weeks, twice in a row.

Hugh Freeze talked in his Monday press conference about being open to more of these type national non-conference games, but only if the SEC remains at eight league games in a season and not nine as a few want to see happen. It appears the majority of those who make such decisions are more in favor of the SEC remaining at eight than going to nine, at least for now.

During that Super Regional in 2005, I met UT AD DeLoss Dodds and several other Longhorn athletics officials. I remember Dodds telling me he was impressed with the facility and the crowd at baseball, and remember that was before the expansion. There were 3,000 fans in the seats and twice that many sitting on the ground and the hills of the outfield.

But it was that weekend which contributed to the football series happening. It was announced not too many years later the two would play football in 2012-13.

When I was in the office Friday, I also found an old newspaper story from the Commercial Appeal from the 1977 Ole Miss win over Notre Dame. Talk about a national headliner. That was the only loss for the Fighting Irish that season as they won the national championship. And it was, as best I can find, the last time Ole Miss has won a football game against a BCS program in non-conference regular-season play. Against a team that didn't later become a member of the SEC, that is.

The Rebels had beaten both Arkansas and South Carolina since 1977 in regular season games before the Razorbacks and Gamecocks became members of the league.

Ole Miss-Texas in 2005
File Photo

Next season Ole Miss opens up against Boise State in Atlanta in the Chik-Fil-A kickoff. So that one is set. Bjork, Freeze, and other Ole Miss officials will continue to monitor the way things unfold for the league as they determine the best non-conference slate for the Rebels into the future.

I had lunch Friday, an incidental contact meeting, with Billy Brewer. We happened to be in the same Oxford locale at the same time. When he became head coach of the Rebels in 1983, one of the first things he did was get Alabama off the schedule.

Why? And how could he do that? Because in some scheduling quirk back then, the Crimson Tide and Rebels had decided to play each other in a game that was an "extra" game in the standings. In other words, a non-conference affair. At the time the SEC was playing only six league football games in the regular season.

That was toward the end of an era when the SEC had some pretty weird scheduling rules; or the lack thereof. Like teams could make their own slate as far as some of the league games they'd play. Or they could designate teams out of conference for league matchups to be conference games. Most of that had ended in the 1960s and 70s, but some of it remained - like the Ole Miss-Alabama series in the early 1980s when Brewer arrived.

Ole Miss and Kentucky played just about every year of the Vaught era. As a matter of fact, it was the very first game for him as head coach as Ole Miss beat Bear Bryant's Wildcat team in Oxford on its way to a first SEC title for Ole Miss in football.

The Rebels always played MSU and LSU, played Tulane (then in the SEC) and Vanderbilt often, as well as Tennessee. They rarely played Alabama and Auburn in the regular season.

It was certainly a different time back then as far as how schedules were put together. But scheduling still remains a hot topic and one of interest for both fans and coaches as to the games fans want to see and coaches feel are best for their program's success.

In Brewer's sixth season, the Rebels won at Alabama on Homecoming Day for the Tide and on the day of the dedication of the Bear Bryant Museum. An equally important fact? It counted in the conference standings.

Brewer and I talked about that game Friday. It was a highlight among several of his 11 years as Rebel head coach.

Bjork and Freeze will continue to talk about future Rebel games to the benefit of Ole Miss and as the SEC tries to make everything fit with 14 teams.

Today, it's all about Ole Miss-Texas. Enjoy it.

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